There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding different sugars so I’m going to clear that up.. hopefully once and for all. Real sugar from a sugar cane is brown, not white and it is a syrupy type liquid, not granules. It has to be processed to become sugar granules. The brown color is the natural molasses in the sugar cane which contrary to popular beliefs, is full of nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, and trace amounts of other vitamins as well.
We will start with the basic white table sugar you can buy just about at any grocery store, cheaply! Not all white table sugar is made from sugar cane. A lot of it actually comes from sugar beets and to make matters worse, most of those sugar beets are GMO. This white sugar has absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever. Cancer does love white sugar though, as does a host of other diseases.
Light brown, dark brown, and golden brown sugar can be put in the last category as well. Those three brown sugars are nothing more than highly processed white table sugar that has had some of the molasses added back in. Why would they take out the molasses just to put back some of it to make brown sugar? Simple. They make a lot more money by selling molasses by itself. They can control how much molasses to add, which isn’t much at all. Some have even been so bold to add coloring to make it look like brown sugar. Beware of any that say brown sugar product or something similar and always read labels!
Next is unprocessed sugar. You can purchase this from places like Whole Foods in the bulk section. I’m not sure why they call it unprocessed though, because this is a small step better than white sugar. It has a beige to light tan color because a tiny amount of the natural molasses is left in the sugar. It is still highly processed though, but at least it actually comes from sugar cane and not sugar beets. It tastes like regular table sugar with a very faint creamy hint to it.
Then there is turbinado sugar. It can also be called Demerara. Many sites are mistakenly reporting that these sugars are raw, but that is not true. Some blogs are also ranting that Sugar in the Raw is misleading in their advertising, but that is also untrue. Sugar in the Raw is simply the name the company uses for the product of turbinado sugar. It pays to closely read labels and ingredients and know the difference between what a product says it is and just the name of it. For any sugar to be raw would mean that it has not been heated. These sugars are actually minimally processed, a LOT less processed than white table sugar and unprocessed sugars.
To make turbinado sugar, the sugar cane is first pressed to extract the juice. It is then boiled to remove roughly 1/2 of the molasses and turn the sugar into crystals. After that, it is spun in a centrifuge to dry. Turbinado sugar has a slightly creamy caramel taste to it. This is perfect for a golden brown sugar substitute. You can make it into a light brown sugar substitute by adding about 1/2 teaspoon of unsulphured or blackstrap molasses to it and mixing well before adding it to the recipe.
Lastly, we have Sucanat (which is also just the registered trademark name of Ragus Holdings, Inc. for unprocessed sugar and stands for Sugar Cane Natural; SuCaNat). It can also be called muscovado, jiggery, jaggery, or Rapadura, depending on what country you are from.
Sucanat is truly raw and unprocessed. It is made by pressing or crushing the sugar cane to extract the juice and then it is allowed to evaporate. It retains all of the vitamins and minerals in it because it has not been heated to remove any of the natural molasses. Sucanat has a deep rich flavor, perfect for recipes that call for brown sugar. You can make it into a dark brown sugar substitute by adding 1/2 -1 teaspoon of unsulphured or blackstrap molasses to it and mixing well before adding to the recipe.
This is a hot topic right now and arguments are everywhere about whether or not some sugars are better for you than others. It’s easy to see that any food that has been unprocessed and still retains its vitamins and minerals will be healthier for you, even sugar, but that doesn’t mean to go overboard and eat a ton of it. Do your own research and come to your own conclusions, but also use plain common sense when it comes to things like this.
Most people already know of the dangers of artificial sweeteners like aspartame (Equal), Saccharine, and sucralose (Splenda), and some are finally coming around to the dangers of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), but many still think “natural” sweeteners such as stevia and agave nectar are healthy. I will go over all of these sweeteners in my next article.
Posted in Food Ed 101
Tagged dark brown sugar, demerara, golden brown sugar, jaggery, jiggery, light brown sugar, muscovado, Ragus Holdings, rapadura, sucanat, sugar, table sugar, turbinado sugar, unprocessed sugar